The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Connie Goodwin is  a PhD student at Harvard who must juggle her academic responsibilities and her promise to clean out her grandmother’s house near Salem one summer.  On her first night in the house, she finds a slip of paper in a book in the home’s library.  On the slip of paper is a name: Deliverance Dane.  The discovery of this name starts her on a quest to find out who Deliverance was and why there would be a piece of paper with her name on it in Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned house.  Eventually, she finds out that there is a “physick book” among Deliverance’s belongings that she must find to learn more about her.  Troughout this search, Connie starts to see things when she is in the house and other strange things start happening to her.

Overall, this novel was a good supernatural thriller.  I really enjoyed the historical information about the time of the Salem witch trials, and there were also interludes back to that time period.  One particularly moving entry was about the experience of a daughter of one of the women hung as a witch.

One aspect of the novel that irritated me was that just about every librarian the protagonist encountered was completely unhelpful.  As with any profession, there are some duds in librarianship.  From my experience the vast majority of librarians chose the profession due to an interest in helping people find information so it is disappointing to read a book where we are stereotyped as stern and unhelpful.  This is something that probably won’t bother a non-librarian so you can take this complaint with a grain of salt.  It did bother me enough to give the novel 4 instead of the 5 stars I would have given it on Shelfari based on the story.

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9 thoughts on “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

  1. That sounds pretty good — I will keep an eye out for it. And c’mon — as a scientist, in terms of bad press, I can say that I’ve never run across a “Mad Librarian Bent on World Takeover/Destruction”.. 🙂

  2. Oooh, I’m onboard for Mad Librarian.

    I’m always impressed with the librarians I encounter. They are helpful and really want to make sure I find what I’m looking for (especially the research librarians at the Boston Public Library — amazing). Granted, sometimes they are a little stressed. But didn’t someone ask you to help them with their taxes one time? No wonder librarians are stressed! 🙂

    • It can be stressful at times, especially in a public library during an economic downturn, but overall it’s a great career that is very rewarding. I’m glad you have had good experiences with librarians!

      You can join us in our quest for world domination. 🙂

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